At full gallop
Love each other deeply – 1 Peter 4:8
1 Peter 4:7-9
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint
Wilma was born on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, the 20th of 22 children. She was a premature infant. As a young child she was paralyzed by polio and was forced to wear a leg brace for many years. She contracted both scarlet fever and double pneumonia. Wilma recalled, “My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”
By the time she was 12, she had regained her ability to walk and took up athletics.
Eight years later Wilma Rudolph was an Olympic champion. At the 1960 Rome Games she became the first black woman to win three gold medals at one Olympics. She won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, breaking three world records.
She strained to win.
Peter exhorted believers to strain to maintain their brotherly love at full strength. The Greek word which is translated deeply or fervent is ektenes. Ektenes literally meant extended, meaning stretching out as a runner stretches out to win. It denotes “the taut muscle of strenuous and sustained effort, as of an athlete” (Cranfield). In non-biblical Greek it is used to describe a horse at full gallop and a runner straining for the tape at the finish line of a race. It came to mean earnest, eager, intense, fervent.
Our love must be energetic. Christian love is not an easy, sentimental reaction. It demands everything an individual possesses of mental and spiritual energy. It means loving the unlovely and the unlovable; it means loving in spite of insult and injury; it means loving when love is not returned (Barclay).
Peter wrote at the time of great suffering and persecution. He wrote with an expectation that the end of all things is near. For him it was a time for believers to vehemently love each other more than ever.
In the light of eternity, Christians must preserve their sanity, preserve their self-control, preserve their prayers, and preserve their love (Barclay).
REFLECT & PRAY
Loving in the same way that the Lord Jesus Christ loved is not difficult, it is impossible. It is impossible except for the fact that the Father has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).
Father encourage me to strain to love even when it hurts.
Straining to love has a multitude of positive results. Love has a tremendous impact on how we can react to sin. Intense love is flexible and willing to forgive. It is not obdurate. In fact, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). “Love hides them from its own sight and not from God’s sight. Hate does the opposite; it pries about in order to discover some sin or some semblance of sin in a brother and then broadcasts it, even exaggerates it, gloats over it” (Lensky).
When your brother or sister fails, do you earnestly strive to cover it or expose it? The one who loves another, is not unaware of their sins, but rather covers them in the sense that they overlook their offenses. They do not allow them to obstruct the relationship.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
“Love takes the oxygen out of sin the way a blanket chokes the air from one caught on fire. Similarly, as long as oxygen is present, forest fires rage. But if we could take the air away, the blaze would settle down.”
“May we love in this way. May nothing evil be allowed to breathe for long. May we keep short accounts. The last days demand our sincere love” (Helm).
The story is told of two RNs working the late shift on a cold, snowy night in the mountains of Colorado. It was almost time to go home. A young couple came in rather disheveled condition needing attention. The woman’s clothes were worn and torn. One nurse was a bit distracted by the circumstances and not sure what to do. The other went and got a blanket and covered young lady.
Which one was loving at full gallop and straining for the tape at the finish line? Which one was loving the unlovely and the unlovable and covering a multitude of sins with a blanket of love?
“Love is the badge of a believer in this world (John 13:34–35). Especially in times of testing and persecution, Christians need to love one another and be united in heart” (Wiersbe).
Athletes do not become world-class Olympians without determination, strain, practice, and discipline. Children of the King do not love in the same way that the Lord Jesus Christ loved without determination, strain, practice, and discipline.
But that is exactly what we are commanded to do and do with intense eagerness. It is not hard. It is impossible without the love which the Father has poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).